Entries in Budget Control Act (2)


White House Details Looming ‘Doomsday’ Budget Cuts

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration Friday laid out on paper -- 400 pages of it -- the details of $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that would take effect at the end of the year unless Congress strikes a deal.  The picture is not pretty.

Billions of dollars would be slashed from defense operations and maintenance programs, says the administration.  Medicare would take a two-percent hit, trimming millions in payouts to health care providers. Scientific research programs would be gutted. Aid for the poor and needy would be sharply curtailed.

More than a billion dollars would even be wiped from the State Department’s diplomatic and consular program, including $127 million for embassy security, construction and maintenance and $2 million for the protection of foreign missions and officials, according to the document.

“The report leaves no question that the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions,” the administration writes in the report, which was submitted to Congress as required by law.

“Sequestration” is the technical name for the across-the-board spending cuts that were agreed to by bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress last year as a penalty for failing to achieve a deficit reduction plan.  They take effect on Jan. 2, 2013, unless lawmakers come up with a different plan totaling $1.2 trillion.

“It was intended to drive both sides to compromise, it was never intended to be implemented,” a senior administration official said.

In releasing the report the White House emphasized that it had no discretion in deciding what programs would be cut or by how much.  Those details were specified by lawmakers as part of the debt ceiling deal reached last year, officials said.

However, the document immediately provided fresh political fodder for Republicans, who have accused Obama and Democrats of being willing to stomach the deep cuts.  The critics do not mention, however, that many Republicans also voted for the plan, including House Speaker John Boehner and GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan.

“This report confirms that the president’s ‘sequester’ is a serious threat to our national security and must be replaced,” Boehner said in a statement. “But with only a few months before they’re scheduled to go into effect, President Obama and Senate Democrats have taken no action whatsoever to avert these cuts.”

House Republicans have passed a measure to avoid the drastic cuts, but Democrats have balked because their plan includes no new revenue (tax increases). To resolve the standoff, both sides will need to compromise on taxes.

“I want to be very clear that the administration does not support the indiscriminate, across the board cuts detailed in this report,” a senior administration official said. “We believe, the administration believes, that these cuts should never be implemented.”

Should lawmakers fail to reach a deal, some budget items will be spared: Veterans benefits, military personnel, and salaries for members of Congress, among other exempt categories.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Blasts the President for Defense Cuts

Steve Pope/Getty Images(WEST CHESTER, Pa.) -- Standing next to two Sikorski helicopters, Paul Ryan had the perfect setting to talk about the looming issue of $500 billion in defense cuts, also known as sequestration, blaming the president for the cuts.

“President Obama’s reckless defense cuts that are hanging over our cloud, hanging over the horizon, could put almost 44,000 jobs at stake right here in Pennsylvania. We are not going to let that happen,” Ryan said to thousands of people at the American Helicopter Museum.

Ryan cited his Pennsylvania colleagues in Congress as well as “national defense” being “the first priority of the federal government” as reasons sequestration won’t happen.

“We already passed spending cuts and other wasteful parts of government to replace those irresponsible and devastating cuts of the president through his lack of leadership … ” Ryan said. "You see, here is what happens. When these budget negotiations went down the pike, the president insisted that these irresponsible defense cuts be a part of this package. Then, he insisted if you want to undo them, we need a trillion dollar tax increase on successful small businesses. So you either lose defense jobs in Pennsylvania or put small businesses further in a competitive disadvantage to compete in the global economy and lose small business jobs."

“I’ve got a good idea,” he added. “Why don’t we take away President Obama’s job and create jobs for everybody no matter what industry they are in? That’s a good stimulus project.”

The vice presidential candidate simplified the reasons behind the cuts, which are part of a political battle that began brewing last summer. They are mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was signed into law last August by President Obama in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

House Speaker John Boehner insisted that any increase in the debt limit be matched dollar-for-dollar in spending cuts and reforms, but as the federal government ran critically low on cash, Congress had only agreed to about $1.2 trillion in savings. Still, the debt limit was increased under an agreement that called on a “supercommittee” to negotiate an additional $1.2 trillion in savings, or face sequestration -- meaning the automatic cuts that include those defense cuts and items unpalatable to each party.

After the supercommittee failed to strike a deal, the country was left with sequestration. The Obama administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, has warned what the cuts would mean for the military.

Romney has also hit the president over the cuts on the campaign trail.

Dressed in a blue polo shirt and khakis, Ryan also struck a populist tone at the rally, hitting both Republicans and Democrats while talking about the “you didn’t build that” line of attack that has been the Republicans’ focus since the president uttered the words last month in reference to government help for small businesses.

“It reveals this side of a government-centered society, of an economy driven by government; it reveals this idea that we need to tax more money from families and small business,” Ryan said. “Take that money to Washington and then spread it around to your cronies. … Look, Republicans have been guilty of this in the past, as well. Let’s not forget that both political parties touched this idea of getting Washington to pick winners and losers in the economy.”

Pennsylvania hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, but the GOP is hoping to turn the state red in November. Ryan spent the day campaigning in West Chester and Carnegie, Pa.

Ryan will hold a fundraiser in the heavily Democratic city of Philadelphia Tuesday evening.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio